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Album Review

A Flock of Seagulls stuck around longer than many critics figured, but by 1986 things looked bad for the group who had become synonymous with the term "haircut band." Synth pop from the U.K. was out, guitars were back in, and Flock of Seagulls' stalwart six-stringer, Paul Reynolds, had quit. Undaunted, the remaining trio relocated to Philadelphia and attempted a more poppier, soulful, and American sound for their fourth album. Unfortunately, the result ended up finishing off the floundering Flock, as the new direction was a critical and commercial bomb. With frontman Mike Score as the primary songwriter and producer (along with veteran boardman Wayne Braithwaite, who'd worked with acts like Kenny G. and Billy Ocean), the group did manage one memorable single; "Heartbeat Like a Drum," with its chattering sequencers and colorful production tricks, seemed like an endearing attempt to re-create Scritti Politti's bubblegum electro-funk. But the rest of the album — featuring already-lifeless songs drowned in Fairlights, female backing vocals, and clumsy attempts to groove — confirmed that the group whose chart odyssey began in earnest with "I Ran" had finally run out of steam. Reaching a career nadir with the faux-R&B of "Love on Your Knees," which combined a nursery rhyme melody with a self-explanatory sexual sentiment, Flock of Seagulls likely drove away any remaining fans attracted by the otherworldly new wave of past hits like "Space Age Love Song" and "Wishing." That accomplished, the band had little else to do but split up, although Mike Score would make two subsequent attempts to revive it with a different supporting cast.


Formed: 1980 in Liverpool, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

As well-known for their bizarrely teased haircuts as their hit single "I Ran (So Far Away)," A Flock of Seagulls were one of the infamous one-hit wonders of the new wave era. Growing out of the synth-heavy and ruthlessly stylish new romantic movement, A Flock of Seagulls were a little too robotic and arrived a little too late to be true new romantics, but their sleek dance-pop was forever indebted to the short-lived movement. The group benefitted considerably from MTV's heavy rotation of the "I Ran"...
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